A Splash of Colour

Illustration of a beach house.


Some things change, even while others stay the same…

It was going to be one of those blue days, Helena decided, and her steps were positively jaunty as she swung the paint can by her side.

The colours blurred and melted softly into the horizon, where azure sky met sparkling sea. The surface was remarkably still. Seagulls skimmed the shore on the hunt for breakfast, and an early paddleboarder with a dog glided effortlessly by.

Deborah raised a hand in welcome as Helena drew near. Her sister had beaten her as usual. She was busy stacking deckchairs into a pile on the pebbles.

“Morning!” Helena called.

I’ve brought the paint. Did you manage to find new rollers?

Deborah grinned and waved a handful of clean brushes in the air.

“You’re just in time for coffee!” her sister replied cheerfully, nodding towards the mugs on the step.

“Amazing!” Helena gave Deborah a quick hug in greeting. “You certainly know how to motivate the workers!”

“I learned from the best,” Deborah reminded her. They exchanged rueful smiles as they remembered their dad. Tom had been the DIY problem solver of the family and they still missed him.

Helena sipped her coffee while they ran their eyes over the rough wood of the beach hut. It was looking rather tatty after months of winter storage.

“I thought we’d start with a fresh coat of white on the inside,” Deborah suggested. “That will give it time to dry so we can put everything back in when we leave. We can tackle the outside this afternoon.”

Helena was happy to follow her sister’s lead. She had never been much of a decorator. They mixed the paint and made a start. Helena’s height proved to be an advantage for the ceiling while Deborah shuffled round the edges and skirting boards. It was hard to avoid falling over each other in such a small space. Their clever, contortionist moves could have won them a game of Twister.

“Any news on the beach hut next door?” Helena enquired when they stopped for a break. It had stood empty and forlorn all last summer.

“Not that I’ve heard,” Deborah replied. “A friend on the council said the waiting list for these huts is as long as your arm. People hand them down in families for generations so it’s hard to get a look in if you’re not from round here!”

Helena nodded in assent. Their parents had been lucky to get their hut when they moved down from
London. These days, the rents were astronomical to reflect the demand. Most families ending up waiting years and sharing them with several others.

The charm of a beach hut was a mystery to some, but Helena loved the evenings on the waterfront after work. A dip in the sea, with a convenient place to change and brew a hot drink afterwards, was the kind of luxury that transformed an ordinary day into a holiday.

“Back to work!” Deborah called, waking Helena from her reverie.

It was Helena’s determination to finish in time for lunch that was her undoing. She slapped the final coat of paint on the back wall with more enthusiasm than skill.  A knock on the door made both sisters jump.

“I wonder if you keen painters might like to take a look outside?” The voice held a hint of irony.

They emerged to see a tall man with a shock of wet hair and a friendly face. He had propped his paddleboard up against the hut next door.

“Oh no! I see what you mean.” Helena groaned as she spotted the fresh paint seeping out between the planks of wood and dripping in long white trails onto the ground. “Well, I’m glad you stopped me when you did.”

“Fortunately, we left the outside until last!” Deborah intervened to spare Helena’s blushes. “You must be our new neighbour?”

“Yes – Pete.” He introduced himself, proffering his hand. They shook it warmly. “My gran offered me the use of the hut this year. She tends to spend the summers pottering in her garden these days. Looks like I might have a spot of decorating to do as well?”

This time it was Pete who looked embarrassed as they surveyed the battered old hut next door. A spaniel darted out with a joyful bark and wound itself through Pete’s legs.

“I thought I saw you earlier!” Helena exclaimed. “Your dog was balancing on the paddleboard. Most impressive!”

Pete glowed at the compliment.

Perhaps you’d like to join me for a swim later? When you’ve finished painting, of course.

He suggested.

Their hands brushed as they both bent down to stroke the spaniel at their feet. Helena’s long hair hid her smile. It promised to be an interesting summer.

Read more romantic short stories:

Read A Date With Destiny, My Very First Valentine, Another Chance At Forever plus many more in our archives.

Georgia Grieve